Animal Abuse and Slaughter

The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), based in Kansas City, Missouri, is a trade association for livestock auction markets in the United States, where animal “producers” truck their “commodities” (live animals) to be sold at auction to buyers.  Current LMA President David Macedo is president of Tulare Sales Yard in Tulare, California.  According to the LMA website, Macedo was 19 years old when he bought half-ownership of the Tulare market that has been in his family for 69 years.  The LMA website lists 28 other member markets in California, among them American Beef Packers in Chino, California.

The LMA employs Washington, D.C. lobbyist Charles Stenholm of the D.C. lobbying firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC to represent its members’ interests on Capitol Hill.  Since 2007, the LMA has paid the firm almost $300,000 in fees for lobbying services.

An argument Stenholm has made recently on behalf of the LMA in favor of re-opening horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. is that the presence of slaughterhouses for horses in the U.S. contributes to equine welfare, an argument that has apparently found favor with D.C. representatives who want to stay on the good side of the powerful meat industry but do not want to alienate constituents, the overwhelming majority of whom deplore horse slaughter.

Since May 2008, when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a report including a video showing the abuse of so-called “downer” cows (those too frail to stand on their own on the way to slaughter) at auctions in Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas, the meat industry has been on the defensive.

According to the HSUS report, an undercover investigation showed the following:

• At the Livestock Exchange (LSX) in Hereford, Texas, HSUS investigators videotaped two downed cows left in the parking lot for four hours. Neither cow could lift her head. They were still alive in the parking lot at closing time. HSUS had received a complaint from a passing motorist about live, downed cows at LSX hanging from their legs by chains attached to a front-end loader.

• At the Westminster auction in Maryland, HSUS investigators documented a downed cow abandoned outside of the auction barn, left to suffer through the night. HSUS investigators contacted agents with the Carroll County Humane Society. An officer expertly ended the cow’s suffering.

• At the Clovis Livestock Auction in New Mexico, two downed cows were filmed over a period of five hours. One was suffering from obvious pain, flailing her legs as she expelled watery feces into the pen where other cows were held for auction.

• At the Greencastle Livestock Auction in Pennsylvania, HSUS investigators documented a calf only days old who was unable to stand and left to die.

All four markets are current members of the LMA.

The HSUS had previously released an undercover video of animals being tortured at the Westland/Hallmark slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., a major supplier to the National School Lunch Program.  That led to the largest recall of ground beef in U.S. history, and the closing of the plant.  Marvin Roberts, an Arizona beef broker, and his partner Pat Carrigan, bought the facility and ren-named it American Beef Packers, a current LMA member.

The LMA was among the “animal industry” representatives called on the carpet by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after the HSUS videos were released.  In response, the Association’s representative Stenholm offered a limp defense of what he called “the animal industry”:

Those responsible for abuse should be punished, but not forced out of business, according to . . . Stenholm, who represents the LMA as a political and regulatory consultant.

“I don’t know of anyone in the animal industry that believes in the abuse of animals,” said Stenholm in an interview with Brownfield Thursday. “That doesn’t say that it doesn’t happen; people lose their tempers, all kinds of things, but that is the exception, not the rule.”

The explanation offered by Stenholm for why abuse occurs in the animal industry–“people lose their tempers, all kinds of things”–shows that animal abuse has nothing to do with the “absence” of a “cost-effective humane disposal available to their owners,” contrary to what Stenholm argued in testimony on July 21, 2008 before the House Committee on the Judiciary in the context of horse slaughter facilities.

Since the banning of horse processing in the United States, the abuse and abandonment of animals has increased.

The abuse to the cows and calves recorded by the HSUS occurred while the animals were on their way to slaughter.  The existence of slaughter facilities for bovines obviously did not prevent (and likely contributed to) the abuse of these animals.

Animal welfare is a recent argument advanced by the animal industry.  The industry was previously unapologetic about the fact that live creatures are its stock-in-trade, as in a speech Stenholm gave at a Kansas livestock convention in 2008.

Stenholm said the horse slaughter issue is a private property issue. Stenholm spoke on the horse processing issue at the Kansas Livestock Association annual convention held Dec. 4 and 5 [2008] in Wichita, Kan. No matter how a person feels about horse processing, Stenholm said no one has the right to tell another person what to do with their private property.

Stenholm made a similar argument at a June 2008, U.S. Department of Agriculture Conference.

[Stenholm] made two points. First, he raised the issue of private property rights, suggesting that it is an individual’s right to sell their horse to slaughter if they so choose. Second, he pointed out that if horses are viewed as pets rather than livestock the industry risks the potential loss of federal funding for equine programs.

True colors.

One Response to “Animal Abuse and Slaughter”
  1. Suzanne Moore says:

    Pure Stenholm. I wonder if he understands what he and his cronies are doing to the credibility of the entire meat industry. He must not or he would shut up.

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